The move of Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez to Arsenal is edging ever closer, if the latest reports are to be believed. Algerian outlet Le Buteur says the winger agreed personal terms with the Gunners some time ago, and all that remains is for the two clubs to settle the deal (via Metro).
Mahrez’s move, supposedly worth around £40m, is the latest in what seems to be a never ending stream of Arsenal transfer gossip this summer. But with the amount of coverage this particular story is getting and the increasingly confident language being used around it, suggests that this time round there may be something more to it than just pure paper talk.
Arsenal boss Wenger is staying as tight-lipped as ever, saying recently both that the club are looking for more attacking options and that when it comes to transfer business he prefers to keep things as secret as possible.
Is Mahrez a good piece of transfer business? For Leicester, the answer from a purely financial point of view is undoubtedly yes. They paid £400,000 for the 25-year-old just a few seasons ago. Adding a couple of extra zeroes to that figure is a sensational result. But the Foxes’ manager Claudio Ranieri has (and credit to him) made it clear the money is besides the point.
He has in recent days been making ever more urgent, thinly-veiled warnings to Mahrez through the media that if the Algeria international heads to a big club, he risks spending his career on the bench. No doubt the Italian also knows if Mahrez leaves it could be devastating for morale in the Leicester dressing room and surrounding the stands. If one of your best players, one of the best players in the league, just walked out the door, wouldn’t you as a Leicester player or fan be a little upset too?
For Arsenal, I would argue it’s a big risk. Mahrez has had one great season. As a result his transfer value is through the roof. But there isn’t the depth of experience to back it up. He’s never played in the Champions League. Players with better long-term goal scoring records and greater international stature have sold for less.
Then again, Theo Walcott is not of the same level and has not been producing the goods. Arsenal are in a tight spot and they don’t have a huge amount of options. The club’s pockets are deep enough. Mahrez to North London? Make it happen, Wenger.